June 15, 2022

Lynne Barre – NOAA Fisheries, West Coast Regional Office

Wed., June 15, 2022
Phinney Neighborhood
7:30 pm
doors open at 7

Southern Resident Killer Whales: An Update on NOAA's Species in the Spotlight ... more


2008-2009 Speaker Series

The Puget Sound Chapter of the American Cetacean Society would like to sincerely thank the following people for giving a presentation at one of our monthly Speaker Series meetings.

Click on any of the Abstract links for a summary and a brief bio about the talk Many abstracts also contain additional related resources.

Sept 2009 Speaker

17 June 2009 - Donna Sandstrom and Kelsey Moreno

the Whale Trail ... Abstract

20 May 2009 - Laura Morse, NOAA NMML

Tales from the field: The lifestyle of a not so rich and famous marine mammal observer ... Abstract

Laura Morse, of NOAA Fisheries Service's National Marine Mammal Lab, will talk about what it's like to live in the field and her experiences on projects around the world. She will share photos, video and acoustic recordings of the rare and beautiful species studied and observed.

Laura Morse joined the Cetacean Assessment and Ecology Program at the National Marine Mammal in the spring of 2008. Laura is the field team leader for aerial surveys conducted in the Beaufort and Chukchi Sea and provides support for additional field research effort within CAEP. Laura has degrees in biology and anthropology from SUNY, Buffalo, NY and is currently working on a Masters in Coastal Zone Management through Nova Southeastern University, Florida. Prior to joining NMML, Laura spent the past 14 years working as a marine mammal field biologist worldwide on aerial, shipboard and land/ice based projects. She has participated in multiple large scale cetacean abundance surveys throughout US waters, the Norwegian Sea, Southern Ocean, Western Pacific, Indian Ocean and Asian waters and has specialized experience in field identification, photo-id and passive acoustics. Laura's favorite hobby in the field is photography of marine life , images from her collection will be presented here

15 April 2009 - Dave Rugh, NOAA NMML

How many gray whales are there and where are they? ... Abstract

Gray whales of the Eastern North Pacific population have a phenomenally long and predictable migration between the Arctic and Mexico. Surveys along this migratory route show that these whales generally follow the coast, passing close to shore at some key locations. The site used most routinely for calculating abundance is at the Granite Canyon research station near Carmel, California. Shore-based counts of whales migrating south past Granite Canyon have provided good estimates of population size. Results from studies conducted across four decades show that gray whale abundance has had a fairly steady increase but with a notable decline after 1998 followed by an apparent stabilization. As the population increases, it is approaching the carrying capacity of the environment - a highly variable feature that can hold back productivity or give latitude for more growth.

Dave Rugh is a Wildlife Biologist at NOAA Fisheries Service's National Marine Mammal Lab Cetacean Program, studying Alaska's gray whales, belugas, and bowheads, primarily for distribution and abundance. This has meant oversight of NOAA's shore-based census of gray whales during their southbound migration past Granite Canyon in central California since the mid-1980s. Prior to that, Dave led a study of gray whales migrating through Unimak Pass in Alaska, and he has done aerial or ship-based surveys for marine mammals around most of Alaska. Dave has also been the project leader for aerial surveys of belugas in Cook Inlet since 1993, and he currently is program coordinator for several large surveys of marine mammals north of Alaska, including a multi-million dollar feeding ecology study of bowheads near Point Barrow. Since starting to work for NOAA in 1976, Dave has made several trips to Alaska or northwestern Canada each year, now totaling over 50 research endeavors. These surveys have resulted in well over 100 manuscripts on a dozen species in two dozen journals or books.

18 March 2009 - Paul Wade, NOAA NMML

Mammal-eating (transient) killer whales of the Aleutian Islands and Bering Sea ... Abstract

Prior to 2001, little research had been conducted on killer whales in the Aleutian Islands and Bering Sea (AIBS), and basic facts about killer whale biology in this region were mostly unknown. Our group has conducted surveys in this region since 2001, and in collaboration with another research group (NGOS), we have learned much about the killer whales there. Fish-eating ("resident") and mammal-eating ("transient") type whales both occur in the AIBS. Transients-type whales number in the hundreds, and our studies suggest these whales undertake substantial movements primarily driven by spatial and temporal aggregations of their marine mammal prey. These include hunting gray whales on migration in May and early June, adult male fur seals on the Pribilof Islands in late June, fur seals, minke whales, and other species throughout the summer, and fur seal pups just entering the water at the Pribilofs in late summer and fall. Most dramatically, satellite tagging data and cookie-cutter shark scars show that transients from the AIBS also move as far south as the North Pacific transition zone (circa 35-40° N. latitude, > 1000nm south of the Aleutians. Our research has attempted to quantify the potential impact of predation by mammal-eating killer whales on the dynamics of their prey populations, including endangered Steller sea lions.

Paul R. Wade is a research biologist in the Cetacean Program at the National Marine Mammal Laboratory, Alaska Fisheries Science Center, NOAA Fisheries, in Seattle, Washington. He is also an Affiliate Professor at the School of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences at the University of Washington. He received a Ph.D. from Scripps Institution of Oceanography researching the abundance and population dynamics of spotted and spinner dolphins in the eastern tropical Pacific. He has done research on gray, bowhead, right, and humpback whales, as well as research on establishing sustainable levels of marine mammal bycatch in fisheries. His current research focuses on killer whales in the Aleutian Islands and Bering Sea. He is a member of the U.S. delegation to the Scientific Committee of the International Whaling Commission, the Cetacean Specialist Group of the IUCN Species Survival Commission, and the Steering Committee of the SPLASH humpback whale project.

18 February 2009 - Marla Holt

Killer whales (Orcinus orca) increase their call amplitude in response to vessel noise) ... Abstract

Dr. Holt earned her Ph.D. from University of California, Santa Cruz in June 2006, where she focused on spatial hearing in seals and sea lions including lab work on sound localization and auditory masking, and field work on vocal signaling in free-ranging northern elephant seals. Currently, she is a National Research Council (NRC) Postdoctoral Associate at the NOAA Northwest Fisheries Science Center investigating acoustic risk factors in Southern Residents and noise effects on their vocal behavior

The inland waters of Washington state and British Columbia are important summer and fall foraging areas for Southern Resident killer whales where a variety of vessels are also prevalent. Vessel noise can mask or cover up the calls that killer whales produce because the frequency range of noise emitted from nearby vessels overlaps with the frequency range of killer whale calls. Individuals may compensate for background noise by changing their signal’s amplitude, duration, repetition rate, and/or frequency. Such vocal compensation is often interpreted as an anti-masking strategy for high background noise levels. The goal of this study was to investigate call amplitude compensation (the Lombard effect) in these killer whales to elucidate how they might compensate for changing levels of background noise in the marine environment and how vessel numbers contribute to noise exposure in this population. Additionally, behavioral data observed at the surface were also collected to determine how the use of different acoustic signals corresponded with group activity states. The whales increased their call amplitude as background noise from nearby vessels increased illustrating that the whales compensated for these changes in noise levels to a degree. Sound production patterns compared by behavioral states illustrated that not only echolocation clicks but also communicative signals are particularly important to foraging whales that are faced with the challenge of hearing these signals in anthropogenic noise.

21 January 2009 - David and Dottie Bonnett

Amazon River Dolphin research ... Abstract

Since 2000, David Bonnett and his wife Dottie have been making trips to the Peruvian Amazon. They have travelled extensively on the Upper Amazon River and its tributaries, mainly visiting various humanitarian and conservation projects they are supporting in that area.

In 2007 and again this year David and Dottie chartered a unique river boat and traveled into the remote Peruvian Amazon flooded jungle to investigate the feasibility of developing acoustic techniques to count a threatened species, the Amazon Pink River Dolphin, Inia geoffrensis.

The Amazon River Dolphins are incredibly fascinating animals who are very elusive thus difficult to count. They deploy underwater listening tools that David learned how use during his Navy and subsequent civilian career.

Their preliminary results suggest that a proper census could be significantly enhanced by using underwater sound recording and analysis technology to supplement traditional visual counting techniques. In the process of analyzing the acoustic data we've collected, David has have uncovered evidence that these animals use their powerful sonar to modify prey behavior , something current experts say is not done.

The Bonnett's presentation will include a demonstration of the techniques they are using to analyze the dolphin sounds recorded thus far. Here is a link to a web site that has some of the background of their 2007 trip: Living in Peru -Travel : Our Study of the Amazon Pink Dolphin

19 November 2008 - Dawn Noren, Northwest Fisheries Science Center

Using behavioral data to gain insight into habitat use and bioenergetics of Southern Resident killer whales ... Abstract

Dawn Noren will discuss some analyses that she and her collaborators conducted on the behavioral data collected from Southern Resident killer whales for a vessel impact study. Although Dawn will not be presenting the results of the vessel impact study yet, as those anlayses are still being conducted, she will briefly describe the purpose of the vessel impact study and how the data that were collected relate to the goals of that study. The presentation will focus on how we can use these data to investigate key areas where generalized behavior states occur as well as how specific behaviors (e.g., dive duration, swimming speed, spatial arrangement of whales) vary between geographic areas in the San Juans. Dawn will also discuss how we can use swimming speed and respiration data to model the bioenergetics of Southern Resident killer whales, particularly how much energy the whales expend daily (and consequently, how many fish that must be consumed).

Dawn is a physiological ecologist whose primary research interests include: 1) diving physiology, 2) energetics and metabolism, 3) the assessment of body condition, and 4) how individual variation in condition and physiology impacts animals' abilities to function in their environment. She is currently studying the potential impacts of vessel presence on Southern Resident killer whale behavior and energetics. In order to assess this, she is collecting behavioral data from Southern Resident killer whales in the San Juan Islands using a focal follow approach. In addition, she is conducting energetics studies on trained bottlenose dolphins and a killer whales to determine the metabolic costs of surface active behaviors, which are sometimes attributed to disturbance. Her data will help scientists understand stresses to killer whales caused by frequent exposure to vessels. Finally, she is working on a collaborative study with the Harmful Algal Bloom group at the NWFSC to assess potential impacts to killer whales that consume salmon during a harmful algal bloom.

Abstract: Free-ranging cetaceans are less accessible to researchers than other marine vertebrates due to their large body size and fully aquatic lifestyle. Consequently, data on the behavior and energetics of these animals are limited, though some groups of cetaceans are more easily studied than others. For example, Northern and Southern Resident killer whales are recognized individually and their behavior enables researchers to observe them regularly in inland waters during the summer months. Behavioral data collected during studies designed to assess vessel impacts can also be used for additional analyses that provide information on habitat use preferences and bioenergetics.

This presentation will focus on how we can use these data to assess the variability in where predominant generalized behavior states (e.g, rest, travel, forage) occur in the San Juan Islands and to model the daily energy expenditure and prey consumption requirements of resident killer whales.

These studies are important for providing information that address two of the risk factors associated with the decline of the ESA-listed Southern Resident killer whales. First, a better understanding of habitat use, particularly where foraging and resting behaviors occur, is critical for potential future management actions, such as the selection of reserve areas where killer whales are protected from vessel traffic and other human activities. Second, a better understanding of daily energetic requirements is important to assess whether prey availability is sufficient to meet the metabolic demands of the Southern Resident killer whale population.

15 October 2008 - Thomas White

"In Defense of Dolphins: The New Moral Frontier" ... October

In his new book In Defense of Dolphins: The New Moral Frontier, philosopher Thomas White argues that the scientific evidence is now strong enough to support the claim that dolphins are, like humans, self-aware, intelligent beings with emotions, personalities and the capacity to control their actions. See http://www.indefenseofdolphins.com/

Thomas I. White is the Hilton Professor of Business Ethics and Director of the Center for Ethics and Business at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, California. Professor White received his doctorate in philosophy from Columbia University and taught at Upsala College and Rider University in New Jersey before moving to California in 1994. His publications include five books (Right and Wrong, Discovering Philosophy, Business Ethics, Men and Women at Work, and In Defense of Dolphins) and numerous articles on topics ranging from sixteenth-century Renaissance humanism to business ethics. His most recent research has focused on the philosophical implications--especially the ethical implications--of the scientific research on dolphins.

UN's Year of the dolphin welcomes Professor Thomas White as Ambassador for 2008. [more]

17 September 2008 - Kristin Wilkinson, Strandings Coordinator for NOAA Fisheries

Overview of the NW Marine Mammal Stranding Network ... Abstract

Kristin will give an overview of the Northwest Marine Mammal Stranding Network, explain what and who is involved, and highlight the marine mammal species they encounter during stranding response.

Kristin Wilkinson has been working for NOAA Fisheries for the past two years as the Marine Mammal Stranding Specialist. Kristin oversees all of the stranding networks in Washington and Oregon state and has a passion for educating others about marine mammals. Kristin studied marine biology in Townsville, QLD, Australia and graduated from the University of Hawaii where she worked for NOAA and the Marine Turtle Response Program.

June 2008 Speaker

ACS National website
opens in new tab.